We had been to the local upscale shopping mall, the kind that draws more restaurant-goers than shoppers. M and S were performing at the annual piano recital that their teacher holds. Things went swimmingly well. M didn't freeze up while playing, while S managed to fudge his way through his big piece, nailing at least all his glissandos without missing a note. All the pieces played by the 20 odd students sounded quite charmingly well-crafted and precisely enunciated, varying in genre from modern to jazz and swing and classical.
As we left the store and headed down the escalator, S pointed out a booth at the center of the acres of gleaming tile, sporting a banner with the name of our local congressman. "Do you think that's him?" I peered at the tall man bending over a sheaf of papers as he talked to a lady in pantsuit. "I'm not sure...Yes, it's him." My husband promptly walked over and introduced himself to the congressman, and insisted on introducing us as well. A few pleasantries later, he asked S what his dreams were, and S mentioned "Making movies."
"Bollywood style?", asked Mr.M.
"More along the line of action and effects, like ILM," I pointed out.
Wondering if I had said too much, I then stood aloof, feeling faintly uneasy as they went on talking. This was not who I had voted for in the last election, though my husband had voted for him.
After getting handed a couple of mini-copies of the Constitution and a booklet about The Flag, we walked away and back to our car, before we realized that lunchtime was slipping away and we hadn't had lunch.
So it was back to the mall for a short eat-in. Just as we were finishing up, Ben N. kept stopping by, industriously asking if I needed extra croutons on my soup, and offering to clear away our plates, even though we would have done it ourselves. It felt faintly weird to be the honored recipient of too much customer service training. Or maybe it was just my dangly earrings that Ben wanted to check out, like a mesmerized toddler.
As we went back to the car, M and S decided that they wanted to go 'bug the congressman' again, just for bragging rights with their friends. So off they went with their father, while I stayed in the van.
This time they chatted with him for another 15 minutes, quizzing him about what he did and why he didn't make more public appearances. He said that he had been out all morning, milking a cow at a local farm, and had to change from his boots because of the cow manure that spattered them. Clearly, an eyebrow-raising fundraiser of sorts "Get your Congressperson to Milk a Cow" or some such.
(I can't put my finger on it precisely, but there is something similar in the effusive attention from the eager employee at the eatery and the (busy?) congressman milking cows and schmoozing with the public. Strange times indeed, when people who normally wouldn't bat an eyelid at your approach, start treating you like long-lost friends.)
"What do you like to do in your spare time?", asked S, the ever-professional interviewer (He's had practice interviewing a teacher who was a veteran soldier, and watches too much Colbert who also likes to interview congressmen and put them on the spot).
"Jogging, playing the guitar", answered the congressman.
"And now, let me guess your favorite activities. You like to vacuum your room and your brother's", he suggested to M, who squealed in mock indignation.
S said, "I play the piano and violin. We just had our piano recital a little while ago. And, I have a concert with my orchestra this evening, too."
S named the pieces they were playing, on inquiry by Mr.M. "Oh, the Firebird Suite, that's one of my favorites."
"Ha...is it really, or are you just acting like a politician?", S jabbed a finger at him.
"No, I really like that piece", and he hummed a few bars. Touche.
My husband detailed all the events after he got back to the van, and we had a good guffaw at M and S's attempts to 'bug the congressman'. They had been bugged by their intended victim, instead. It's hard to get past a congressman who is also a trained psychologist!